Ancient Greek Theatre in Dodona
Ancient Greek Theatre in Dodona

Trent’s Classics Drama Group proudly presents, An Oresteia: Agamemnon and Libation Bearers.

An Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies produced in 458 B.C. The Classics Drama Group (CDG) will be performing the first two parts, Agamemnon and Libation Bearers of this trilogy as a two-act show. The show will run from Wednesday, February 4, to Saturday, February 7. The Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday performances will be held at the Nozhem First Peoples Performance Space. Friday’s performances will be held at Market Hall. The weekday shows begin at 8:00pm with a matinée on Saturday at 3:00pm.

The Classics Drama Group was created in 1993 and every year since has performed either an ancient tragedy or comedy, almost always Greek. “This particular set of plays are some of the most influential Greek tragedies. They have been on my mental short list for a while,” comments director/producer George Kovacs—Assistant Professor of Ancient History and Classics—on how this year’s performance piece was chosen. “In some ways this is the biggest production we have ever done.”

The story of the Oresteia tells of Agamemnon’s victorious return home from the Trojan War, only to discover that his wife, Clytemnestra, has been unfaithful. Now I don’t want to give away too much but I will disclose that things get bloody, in a way most unexpected. “That is the action of the first play, the return of Agamemnon,” says Kovacs.

Libation tells the story of Orestes, the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon who has grown up in exile. After being gone for many years, Orestes returns as a young man to Argos and is faced with a nearly impossible dilemma! But the only way to find out what happens to Clytemnestra and poor Orestes is to go to the show.

Kayla Reinhard, who will be playing Clytemnestra, explains her process in becoming this powerful female character: “She has a lot of lines, she does a lot of speaking because that’s how she pulls the wool over everybody’s eyes, that’s how she tricks everyone; through false words.” Reinhard has been participating in the Classics Drama Group performances for the past four years since she started at Trent. This will be the largest role she’s played. “It’s a lot of fun to get into the mindset of the lines and be sarcastic with it and be snooty. That’s a lot of fun and it’s easy to play snooty.” Doing a major in Con-Ed and studying English, this is Reinhard’s way to stay connected to the Classics.

This will be the sixth production that Kovacs has done with the CDG, “We have a pretty established formula,” explains Kovacs. Casting happens in the fall, then from the first reading week until the end of the semester the group does a lot of table work. “It gives me a good sense of what our characters are going to flush out as. Every character is one thing on page, but when you combine it with a particular actor you are going to get something different.”

Over Christmas Kovacs has his cast memorize their lines, so that come the New Year they can put the production on its feet. This is when rehearsals start. “We only have a month to build the show from the ground up, so we get together as often as we can and get on stage,” says Reinhard.

The cast for this production is made up entirely of Trent students. The CDG is a way for people with little or no theatre experience to expose themselves to the world of acting and be a part of a great production. “I’m often training people right from the ground,” says Kovacs.

Without a doubt this performance will be full of lies, drama, and death. “Murder. Family. Repeat. That is the formula for any Greek tragedy,” jokes Kovacs. “It’s a real mixed bag. It’s good to see. It’s always interesting to see how theatre works through fresh eyes.”

Along with the performance, every year CDG has a speaker come to Trent for a guest talk. This year the guest speaker is Dr. Hallie Marshall, coming from the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia. The talk is called “Excuse me, can you tell me where I can get a copy of the Oresteia?: Buying and reading books in fifth-century Athens.” This talk will be held on Friday February 6 at 1:00pm. “She will be giving a talk on the book trade in ancient Athens,” elaborates Kovacs.

So next week pick a day, any day, from Wednesday through Saturday and come see the Classics Drama Group perform An Oresteia. Tickets for the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday show are $10 or $7 for students.

Tickets for the show at Market Hall on Friday are $15 or $12 for students. There will be deceit. There will be blood. There will be murder. And I know you don’t want to miss it!